A Slice of...Aberdeen, Scotland!

This week, we travel all the way to Scotland to see Sarah's town of Aberdeen! Be sure to pop over to her blog and Etsy and say hello!

Hi, I'm Sarah from From the Rooftops (http://amongthechimneypots.wordpress.com/ www.fromtherooftops.etsy.com) and I live in a crumbling but gorgeous 130 year old attic flat (er... apartment) in the heart of Aberdeen, Scotland along with my boyfriend, Steve.

I first moved to Aberdeen 15 years ago to attend The University of Aberdeen; the University was established way back in 1495 and the original King's College building and quadrangle are still in use as a conference centre, chapel and for tutorials.

The campus is absolutely beautiful with a little cobbled street running through it and ancient cottages dotted in between the lecture halls. Just beyond it lie the Botanic Gardens, St Machar Cathedral and Donmouth Nature Reserve where it's not uncommon to see seals lolling about the mouth of the River Don!

At the other side of town, on the banks of the River Dee, is another, much newer university (Robert Gordon University) whose ultra-modern campus has a stunning view out across the countryside.

But there's a lot more to Aberdeen than rivers and education! One of my favourite places to hang out is Duthie Park, a 44 acre park complete with a bandstand, a rose-covered hill, children's play area and the stunning Winter Gardens (an enormous greenhouse filled with tropical plants, terrapins and an electronic frog; the ideal place to hide from surprise rain showers!).

If I'm going for a hot drink, my first choice is usually Kilau, an arty little cafe tucked above a hairdresser's on Little Belmont Street; I'm also quite partial to Tinderbox in Union Square which is part of a small Scottish chain of high quality coffee shops!

(Big) Belmont Street is a cobbled street right in the centre of town. It hosts a monthly market of local produce (everything from fresh fish to handmade jewellery) and is home to secondhand-bookshop-cum-cafe, Books and Beans, retro giftshop, It's Kitsch, and the local arthouse cinema. It's also lined with a number of pubs of varying quality - my recommendations would be The Wild Boar for cheap style or Slain's Castle for novelty value (it's an old church converted for maximum creepiness; the toilets are hidden behind fake bookcases).

For shopping, I love Coco Violet on The Green, which sells quirky, girlie and retro clothes and accessories, and Junction on Holburn Street, which is an art and gift shop. Vintage clothes can be found in Retrospect on St Andrew Street and The Closet on Jopp's Lane - the tiniest little shop which you have to stoop to enter; it really feels like you're rootling around for stylish treasures in there!

There are loads of good places to eat in Aberdeen, although having cheap and inexpensive tastes I can't advise about fancy restaurants! Places I do frequent are The Athaneum on Union Street (gorgeous food, lovely cocktails, leather sofas) and Old Blackfriars, a cosy pub in an historic building on Castle Street.

Want some inside knowledge on Aberdeen? Local recycling charity Aberdeen Forward sells off cheap arts supplies from its offices down the harbour, whilst Somebody Cares, a charity which provides basic furniture to people in need, has a big warehouse sale once a month at which they sell off all the items too quirky for their everyday use! Also, keep an eye open for the gorgeous-but-irregular Tea Cosy craft fairs - very damaging to my bank balance!

I'm not going to lie to you: the North-East coast of Scotland can be a wild and chilly place, but it makes up for it in beauty. I've left town twice over the last fifteen years but I came back within six months both times; Aberdeen is a small city where everyone with a vaguely indie, alternative or imaginative leaning knows each other, but that gives it a real sense of community; this is where I call home.